A mechanical system consisting of a spacecraft with weightless elastic tether and load is considered in the paper. The spacecraft motion under the action of tensile force of a radially oriented tether is investigated. It is shown that elastic tether oscillations can result in appearance of chaotic modes of spacecraft motion. By means of the Melnikov method a condition is obtained, allowing one to determine the measure of damping sufficient for prevention of these chaotic modes. The influence of system’s mass-geometric and elastic characteristics on the form of phase portrait and on the value of periodic disturbance, caused by oscillations of the elastic vertical tether, is studied.
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